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Members will not lose out during this lockdown closure, with the renewal date of all memberships automatically extended to cover the days that Life is closed.


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We're reopening on the 1st August with the new Brick Dinos exhibition. The rest of the science centre will remain closed.

Brick Dinos ticket prices

Price below includes a 10% voluntary donation


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Research at Life

How research at Life is enriching lives

The International Centre for Life is a science village in the heart of Newcastle upon Tyne. Nearly 600 people from 35 countries are based here; researchers, doctors and nurses work alongside people in the fields of education, business and public engagement. They all share a common goal to enrich lives through science.

Newcastle University chose the International Centre for Life for the location of its Institute of Genetic Medicine (IGM). The IGM works closely with the NHS Northern Genetics Service, which houses more than 150 NHS staff, including the Molecular Diagnostic Service for the region. Its research has expanded considerably since Life opened in 2000, gaining an international reputation on many areas of the life sciences.

The following is an account of the medical advances being made by Newcastle University researchers at Life to improve people's lives.

2018/19 research highlights:

  • On-site scientists have developed a new method to grow curved human corneas by controlling the behaviour of cells in a dish. In addition, stem cell researchers at Life have further developed their model of the human eye – built to mimic the complex structure of the organ for research purposes – so that it now encompasses all retinal cell types and is responsive to light.
  • IGM scientists identified an important gene in producing fully-functioning sperm, relevant to male infertility research that is actively being studied together with the on-site NHS Newcastle Fertility Centre. The gene, RBMXL2, is very similar to a possible infertility gene found on the Y chromosome found only in men. This will pave the way for further exciting research in this area, as the RBMXL2 gene is easier to manipulate and analyse in the laboratory than the Y chromosome.
  • On-site researchers also identified that gene editing could be used to halt kidney disease in a life-limiting brain disorder called Joubert syndrome. The condition affects approximately one in 80,000 newborns, and one third also develop kidney failure. The new research study found it is possible to use a strand of engineered DNA to trick the cells’ own editing machinery to bypass the gene mutation that causes kidney damage.
  • The John Walton Muscular Dystrophy Research Centre, which is hosted by NHS Northern Genetics Service at Life, opened the first gene therapy trial for spinal muscular atrophy in Newcastle. Spinal muscular atrophy is a severe neuromuscular disease characterised by the loss of motor neurons, leading to progressive muscle weakness and paralysis. The most severe form of the disease results in mortality or the need for permanent ventilation support within the first two years of life for more than 90% of patients.

Looking ahead:

  • IGM received significant funding for its stem cell research as well as for its cancer prevention research with a Cancer Research UK international Catalyst Award. Meanwhile, neuromuscular researchers at IGM have received substantial funding to support building a pan-European network for paediatric clinical trials.
  • Newcastle University has recently invested in upgrading its Genomic Core Facility as well as the Functional Genomics Unit, giving researchers easy access to the equipment needed to stay at the forefront of genomics research.

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Our standard ticket price includes a donation of at least 10%. As a charity we rely on the support of our visitors more than ever in these challenging times.

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